Barbell Squat

If you are trying squats for the first time (or the first time in a long time), start with the dumbbell squat which is an excellent primer for this squat.

The squat is one of the most important exercises to build power and overall leg and core strength. The squat works the quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip muscles, low back and upper back to mention a few, and requires good back and hamstring flexibility.

It is an advanced exercise which requires practice and attention to form, as well as a spotter for all heavy lifting. Incorrect posture or unmonitored heavy lifting could result in serious injury. There are many different types of squats appropriate for various sports or goals: we will describe the back squat.

  1. Step into squat rack with barbell placed on rack slightly lower than shoulder height. It is important that the barbell not be positioned too high on the rack, as you do not want to extend up on your toes to get the barbell on your back.
  2. Duck under rack, and using a lunge stance, or half squat, lift up until bar rests on upper back musculature, place hands on barbell at a comfortable grip and squeeze shoulder blades together.
  3. Holding abs tight, straighten up to a standing position with feet hip width apart and find balance.
  4. Keeping chest up, head up, inhale and sit buttocks back as you lower down into the squat position, thighs parallel to floor if possible, keeping back slightly arched and feet pointed straight ahead.
  5. Exhale hard as you then press up through the heels (rather than having the body weight into the toes) and squeeze buttocks as you reach FULL standing position.

Tip: Lifting portion of exercise can be performed faster than lowering portion.

Variation: Variations of this exercise include:

  • a narrow squat, which may not be comfortable for many women because of wider hips
  • a wider squat which may help target the inner aspect of the thighs
  • a front squat, where barbell is placed on the upper chest with various holding positions
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